Friday, December 23, 2022

7 Steps To Highly Productive Business Relationships

business-relationship-productiveIn business, you need positive relationships with others to do your job, further your career, and manage your business. Being a “lone ranger” won’t get you there, no matter how hard you work. In my experience as a mentor and advisor, I find that many of you expect these relationships will just happen, without any overt effort on your part. Nothing could be further from the truth.

For example, as an entrepreneur, you need investors, so you need to start networking early, because they won’t find you. In your career, you need relationships with peers and managers who will be your advocates for you in that next opportunity you are seeking. How much of your time and focus do you spend today on building and nurturing these relationships that count?

I’m not talking here about time spent promoting yourself to others, but time spent listening and learning, and making these people feel appreciated and valuable. In my own experience networking as a startup investor and business executive, I always gave extra consideration to someone who didn’t immediately pitch me about their great idea or background.

Here are my key mentoring recommendations for how to approach new and existing relationships to make them more productive and valuable to your own business aspirations:

  1. Allocate time to find and develop outside relationships. Actively seek out and attend key outside business conferences in order to meet and get to know people who can help you, and you can help in return. This can vary depending on your business interests, but may include a charity event or retreat, and can be a common hobby or community role.

    I have found that finding time for new and old relationships is a challenge for many of us, especially introverts. I suspect you may find the problem to be allowing too many interruptions, or simply avoidance of those things that are outside your comfort zone.

  2. Ask questions to find common goals and interests. All productive business relationships must be based on some shared goals and common interests, potentially in different industries. These may include shared business financial objectives, technology advancements, or shared career goals. Don’t forget entertainment or family connections.

    Perhaps the challenge here is more clearly defining and prioritizing your own goals for your career or business. Per the old saying, it’s hard to know if you are on the right path, if you don’t know where you are going. Relationships can be the key to finding that path.

  3. Always be positive and agreeable in early relationships. It never pays to approach new relationships with your favorite complaint, or your view of all the things wrong the world or your organization. If you are looking for an advocate, an investor, or positive feedback, it won’t work to come across as opinionated, argumentative, or disagreeable.

  4. Find other’s success rather than talking about yourself. This may seem obvious, but in my experience it rarely happens in practice. Everyone has something to admire, and it’s up to you to find it. These create positive emotions, which will be always be attributed to you. In addition, you will learn when and how best to ask for the help you need.

  5. Show respect and concern to relationships in any stage. Courtesy and respect earn the same in return to you. Showing concern will enable a connection at an emotional level, as well as the intellectual level. You need both, to get the maximum value from the relationship in the long term. Respect also leads to the trust you need for real support.

  6. Express appreciation for existing and past relationships. This sends a message that this relationship will be valued as well. If you are openly critical of other relationships, people will be reluctant to help you or offer guidance, for fear that their efforts will not be appreciated, or will be actively discounted to others. What goes around comes around.

  7. Don’t try to change anyone to meet your expectations. Everyone has biases and comes from a different background. By expressing sensitivity to their challenges, their self-esteem will be enhanced, and they will more likely accept you and appreciate your value and perspective. Only then can this be a mutually beneficial relationship.

If you are struggling and feeling all alone in your business, I highly recommend that you follow these key ways to find and nurture some new business relationships. You will find your efforts are returned many times over, and your feelings of isolation and stress are replaced with connections and satisfaction. You might even find some friendships that will last you the rest of your life.

Marty Zwilling

*** First published on on 12/9/2022 ***



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